One Year as a Qualified Acupuncturist

By James Woodward.

I first discovered acupuncture through my interest in Japanese reiki. A few books I had read gave me hints that some of the more traditional techniques were based on Chinese medicine. That was ten years ago and I was volunteering at the support therapies centre in Canterbury hospital, a centre for patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. After speaking to one of my colleagues who was an acupuncturist I became inspired to find out more – I was already a qualified holistic therapist and practiced Swedish massage, aromatherapy and reflexology.

When I started researching acupuncture, I discovered that Chinese medicine is a holistic way of working, capable of treating the body, mind and spirit. Chinese medicine has many branches besides acupuncture including dietary therapy, qi gong, tui na massage and herbs. The depth and philosophy of the Tao and its application to health and wellbeing is complex and compelling.

When I was looking for courses, I already had some criteria that The City College of Acupuncture in London matched perfectly. The combination of practical, hands-on experience and Chinese medicine theory was very important to me and helped with my development as a student and my transition into a professional acupuncturist. As a student, the layering and repetition of complex information and concepts helped me gain confidence in myself as a therapist. My professional practice improved as my knowledge and confidence grew and this gave me the inspiration to open my own clinic.

My wife found an empty shop near us that used to be a hairdresser’s. It needed some work but had potential. I was not business-minded before starting the course but because all the tutors run successful clinics they all had valuable advice. I set up ‘The Tranquility Space’ (in Herne Bay) during my third year, practicing as a holistic therapist. The clinic room is large enough for small classes, so I rent it out to yoga and Pilates instructors. This has helped reduce my outgoing costs and really improves the range of therapies I can offer to clients. The third year at CCA has a module for business development within the context of acupuncture. This made it possible to set up my registration license to start treating as an acupuncturist within a month of qualifying! The business module helps each person identify how they want to work and lets them achieve that goal. It made setting-up less overwhelming.

Since qualifying one year ago, my practice has grown and this year I will be returning to the college clinic to work as an assistant clinician. Helping guide students in a clinical environment will be very rewarding for me.

Here are some examples of what I learnt from studying at The City College of Acupuncture and applied in my clinic:

  • Looking at every patient as an individual and finding out their individual history .
  • Why is this person unwell? Why does it manifest in this particular way?
  • Treat what you see.
  • Keep the treatment simple.
  • Hone-in on your existing skills.
  • Be really precise about the location of pain – to do this, too must know your anatomy and point location thoroughly.
  • After each treatment, research the acupuncture points and Chinese medicine diagnosis in depth. This will help you refine your treatments and improve your clinical skills.

I will endeavour to pass on these words of wisdom to the new third years as they start treating in the student clinic!